WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. — Oct. 2, 2002 — The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (the Society) announced it has awarded a $7 million grant through its Specialized Center of Research (SCOR) program to Dr. Irwin Bernstein, head of pediatric oncology research at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle. Dr. Bernstein will accept the award in Washington, D.C. at the Society's Journey of Hope Research Award Dinner tomorrow night. The dinner will to be hosted by ABC News veteran Sam Donaldson.
SCOR is the Society's most ambitious research program and one of the largest coordinated efforts to combat leukemia, lymphoma, myeloma and Hodgkin's disease with funding that rivals federal support for blood cancers. Through SCOR grants, teams of researchers representing different disciplines focus on improving the treatment and diagnosis of blood cancers.
The research initiative, conducted by Dr. Bernstein and a team of internationally recognized researchers, is aimed at developing less toxic and more effective immune-based therapies for treating advanced leukemia and lymphoma. The researchers will attempt to harness immune cells and antibodies to selectively kill cancerous cells. In addition to Dr. Bernstein, who pioneered monoclonal antibody therapy for leukemia as well as the development, with Wyeth-Ayerst, of a monoclonal drug conjugate known as Mylotargä, the research team includes scientists from Fred Hutchinson and the University of Washington Academic Medical Center: Dr. Rainer Storb, head of transplantation biology at Fred Hutchinson and pioneer of non-myeloablative stem-cell transplantation (mini transplants) also one of the researchers who developed bone-marrow transplantation. Drs. Philip Greenberg, head of immunology at Fred Hutchinson, and Stanley Riddell, discoverers of a technique known as Rapid Expansion Method (REM), the technology used to expand antigen-specific T cells for use in adoptive immunotherapy techniques. Dr. Oliver Press, internationally recognized for his work in non-Hodgkin's lymphoma and a pioneer of antibody therapy and radioimmunotherapy. All four projects include laboratory work as well as clinical trials.
"The overall goal of our SCOR program is to find multiple, complementary approaches to fight blood cancers, leukemia, lymphoma, Hodgin's disease and myeloma," said Dwayne Howell, president and CEO of The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. "The work by Dr. Bernstein and the research team, if successful, offers hope to thousands of blood cancer patients whose inability to tolerate more toxic therapies leaves them without access to the most effective means of combating their diseases."
"The SCOR award provides us the opportunity to integrate multiple approaches that were pioneered at Fred Hutchinson to develop new, more tolerable and effective therapies for a number of hematopoietic malignancies," said Dr. Bernstein. "Through the research we hope to find ways to harness the immune system to selectively target cancer cells by using immune cells or antibodies armed with toxic agents."
The Journey of Hope Research Award program coincides with the Society's two-day annual Translational Research 2002 Progress Review Meeting, which brings together leading researchers in the third year of their investigations to present updates and discuss findings. The Society's Translational Research Program was created in 1995. The goal of the program is to accelerate transfer of findings from the laboratory to clinical application.
The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society established the SCOR research program in 2000, recognizing the need to bring highly specialized individual researchers together to interact and cooperate in research to find the causes and cures of leukemia, lymphoma and myeloma. Since it began, the program has awarded nearly $52 million to seven centers around the world. The Society's goal is to fund a total of nine centers by the end of 2003 with a total commitment of $62 million.
Society-sponsored research has been a driving force behind major scientific breakthroughs in the treatment of blood cancer. One of the most recent advances included the research by Dr. Brian Druker, who received a $500,000 grant from the Society that helped him demonstrate that the drug Gleevec (STI-571) is an effective treatment for chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML). Gleevec, manufactured by Novartis, was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) last year and is now considered the most effective front line therapy for newly diagnosed CML patients.
SCOR awards are chosen following a highly competitive peer review process that bases its award recommendations on the likelihood that the research will lead to a significant reduction in morbidity and mortality for patients with blood cancers.
Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center
The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society
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Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center
The Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, home of two Nobel Prize laureates, is an independent, nonprofit research institution dedicated to the development and advancement of biomedical technology to eliminate cancer and other potentially fatal diseases. Fred Hutchinson receives more funding from the National Institutes of Health than any other independent U.S. research center. Recognized internationally for its pioneering work in bone-marrow transplantation, the center's four scientific divisions collaborate to form a unique environment for conducting basic and applied science. Fred Hutchinson, in collaboration with its clinical and research partners, the University of Washington Academic Medical Center and Children's Hospital and Regional Medical Center, is the only National Cancer Institute-designated comprehensive cancer center in the Pacific Northwest and is one of 38 nationwide. For more information, visit the center's Web site at www.fhcrc.org.
The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society®
The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society®, based in White Plains, NY, is the world's largest voluntary health organization dedicated to funding blood cancer research, education and patient services. The Society's mission is to cure leukemia, lymphoma, Hodgkin's disease and myeloma, and to improve the quality of life of patients and their families. Since its founding in 1949, the Society has provided more than $280 million for research specifically targeting blood-related cancers. For additional information, please contact the Society at (800) 955-4572 or visit www.leukemia-lymphoma.org